What is the REANNZ Future Funds Internship Programme all about?

Here at REANNZ we run an annual internship programme called Future Funds. This post has been written to tell you a bit about how it is structured and what we expect from our interns.

TL:DR If you’re interested in applying please submit your CV, portfolio materials and description of the project you would like to undertake during your internship to futurefunds@reannz.co.nz.

What happened in 2014

Last year, REANNZ hosted three interns – Jeffrey, Trung and Hayley. Each of them worked on a project based on our 2014 initial categories. Over their first week, we refined their ideas into what turned into their final deliverable.

The key point here is that we did not provide each of the interns with a ready-made project that was set to go. These projects required significant initial thinking and planning just to get to the point where they could begin working.

(By the way, we’ve posted some 2015 intern project ideas too.)

The general structure we provided for their work was:

  • weeks before selection: submit an idea, maybe based on our list
  • first 2 weeks: finalise project and present to all staff
  • middle 6 weeks: work hard
  • final 2 weeks: document everything, write summary paper, present work to all staff

The documentation and summary paper are expected to be a stepping stone to a conference submission. The internship itself is not particularly useful unless it is the foundation for the next thing. Many interns miss this fundamental point so we simply make it an expectation of the internship. The great thing is that this year, we have additional funding to assist interns after the internship is over (see below for how this will work).

What we expect from our 2015 Future Funds Interns

This year the structure of the programme works in the same way as it did in 2014. The key things we expect from our interns are:

1. That you work hard

We understand that you are students. You are used to receiving assignments and having problems with correct answers. This internship is not going to be like that. We will expect you to pick your own problem that is just beyond what you believe you can achieve. Yes, you might fail, and that would stink. But you are an intern; you won’t get fired for that. We also expect you to work on something that is useful for REANNZ; and by useful, I mean that it allows you to develop hard-earned skills and allows us to map intellectual-space that we would normally not explore unless there was an intern prodding us along.

And trust me, you will be pushing, prodding and poking us as much as we are pushing, coaxing and enticing you.  

This is going to be hard work. Really hard. But challenging work is rewarding. You will need to know when you should ask for assistance when you hit a wall. You will need to know that when you ask for assistance, we might send you around, over or through the wall (in 20 years when you are managing interns, this sentence is going to be hilarious) (trust me). You will think we are being overly clever or mean. Most of the time, we will have no idea what the answer is either.

2. That you write a paper

You are currently an academic. This means you should write a paper. Papers get submitted to conferences as posters or talks.  

Understand this: if you are accepted for this internship, we are expecting you to submit your work to conferences. Further, we are expecting that you will be accepted to at least one, hopefully more than one, of them. And you will (hopefully) say that your internship was better than your flatmate’s.

Now, one of the “problems” with a good poster/paper/presentation is that you often have to travel to attend the conference. This means airfare, hotels, food (read: money). And this is where Future Funds kicks in for a second time.  

In addition to the internship stipend, interns can apply for additional funds to support their travel to present their work at conferences. Specifically, we expect interns’ schools to fund travel for national conferences. The additional funds are specifically designed to support international travel for the highest quality work.  

Interested? Send us an application.

Hopefully my note has helped to explain the goals and aspirations of the Future Funds programme.  REANNZ believes that we can provide New Zealand’s best students an opportunity to do great work and then showcase that work internationally. We hope that this challenge excites and encourages you.  

We hope to see your CV and project description soon.

-The Future Funds Team

To apply for the 2016 internship programmes, please submit your CV, portfolio materials and description of the project you would like to undertake during your internship to futurefunds@reannz.co.nz.

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Future Funds Internship Project Ideas

Each year REANNZ creates a list of categories and sample projects in each of the categories for our potential interns. The idea is to let students see the scope of potential projects, get a sense of the amount of work we expect to be completed and get exposure to the multiple activities that are (or will be) in motion when the interns arrive. Be aware that these are the activities that are of interest to us; hopefully this list triggers additional project ideas in your mind. Feel free to describe a project that you think would be more interesting.

More information about our Future Funds internship.

When we asked around the office, these were the things that our staff thought would be interesting and useful for projects:

Programming-centric related projects

  • Rust in the data plane/DPDK:
    Investigation into what could be done with DPDK or something similar. Also a look into Rust as a language.
  • Immutable tag store:
    Label/tag mechanism abstracted into a service. Needs to support temporal tags, i.e. tag values at specific times in the past.
  • Network topology store:
    To cover legacy and SDN environments; hosts, ports, vlans etc.
  • Investigate SnabbSwitch:
    See what crazy stuff can be done with this packet processing tool kit.
  • On-site eduroam tester:
    Develop scripts and a simple reporting system to rotate through different eduroam credentials testing them. (Ref eduroam and eduroamNZ)
  • PerfSONAR light:
    Trial a few different small cheap Linux boxes following on from this project.
  • Display wall toolkit:
    Prepare a small set of tools to support the increased use of the display wall. The tools range from imaging and bootstrapping the display wall environment (to allow us to change the display wall machines quickly to different tasks) to identifying suitable demonstration examples to showcase the capability of the display wall.
  • Database automation:
    Convert our quote builder spreadsheet into a more robust system with a database backend (note that this will interact with our corporate team, so business programmers might be particularly interested).

Researching technology and making it work

  • Juniper EX zero touch provisioning (ZTP) system:
    Figure out how it works and make getting an EX to a very basic state without any human involvement.
  • VC rooms:
    Play with “Zoom Rooms” and control systems to see how cool we could make our VC experience. Aim to rebuild the one of our videoconference rooms as part of the project.
  • Tests, unit tests and consistency:
    Improve the monitoring and test frameworks for the office’s operational and research projects. For example, test SDN controllers (e.g. ONOS, OpenDayLight) and build a set of unit tests and metrics based on the tests; provide a first pass evaluation of the results. Or, monitor and report on broadcast and unicast traffic on the local network; determine how this might scale. Or, design a system to validate config changes before a commit is accepted.

Software Defined Networking (SDN)

  • Hardware/platform test suite:
    Building up a set of tests in OFtest to evaluate candidate hardware/platform options (ONL/OFDPA, PicOS, CumulusOS with various hardware vendors, other hardware vendors with proprietary OpenFlow stacks).
  • MPLS l2vpn/VLL:
    Write an LDP/RSVP software stack that is capable of negotiating an ethernet pseudowire, interoperating with Juniper and Brocade implementations.
  • SDN-based firewall:
    Building on tools such as thimble, nfshunt and scipass, build and implement a proof-of-concept firewall with fastpath offloading to an SDN switch.
  • NetFPGA:
    Implement openflow 1.3 on a netfpga board and benchmark it for performance. Note that you will already need to know how to program an FPGA.
  • Port Faucet to ONOS:
    Faucet is the name of our office’s SDN implementation; find links to ONOS.
  • Fastpath Faucet:
    Change from using controller actions to switching packets to controller directly.
  • Active monitoring for Faucet:
    Verify the switch state is sensible as we monitor it. Identify tests to validate state and automate reaction based on state.
  • Better management tools:
    We are aware of a variety of tools we would like to develop to help identify and automatically avoid specific network states. To get to automated reaction, we need tools such as: packet dumps, l2 traceroute, an easier way to interrogate the switch for data (e.g. showing the mac table).

Data and manipulation

  • Statistical analysis and deep dive:
    A network operator has a significant volume of data available to it. Research and build a set of tools that will run meaningful statistical analysis on our existing data. Identify which data we might want to begin collecting. Visualise the results. Identify patterns across time; across subsets of the network.
    This work could quickly evolve into a master’s level thesis and easily into PhD level work based on the information learned.
  • Datamine customer traffic:
    For a set of our members analyse their traffic patterns and provide recommendations on what services we should be selling to them, as well as what sort of security/firewall device might be appropriate for them.
  • Configuration analysis:
    Data mine the configurations on our CPE router/switches and reduce them to a set of primitives that we can use to form the basis of an automated system to generate network configuration.

Network-centric projects

  • “rScope” evaluation:
    “REANNZ scope”: identify and evaluate a handful of cheap (~$200) devices that can be used as remote measurement/testing probes inside our member networks.
  • Looking glass:
    Build a tool to allow public users to query the route tables on our network devices via a web page.
  • Lego firewall:
    Build and evaluate a stackbase firewall built out of 10Gb/s servers that can be extended by simply adding more firewalls to the chain.
  • Trekin:
    As SDN LAN application that implements EAPOL for port security, and only allows traffic to/from IPs that have been centrally assigned. This will also implement a whitelist-based system for LAN traffic, fixing the architectural hole that gives internal network users greater trusted access to the network by default.
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New REANNZ Weathermap shows our improved network

As you may have noticed – the layout of the network as presented on the front page of our live Weathermap has recently changed quite dramatically. This change is a result of the multiple improvements made to the network over the past year or so. These improvements have often been hidden from view through the Weathermap, so we are pleased that this now represents the network as it stands.

The old Weathermap:

 old

The new Weathermap:

new

One of the key features represented by the new layout is the completion of the deployment of additional resiliency into each of the 6 major centres – Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. In each of these areas we now have either two or three PoP’s in central locations, offering the highest level of diversity to members’ connections in these areas. If your organisation would like to discuss additional connections to our new locations please email engagement@reannz.co.nz.

Also represented are the improvements we’ve recently completed in our regional networks. We now have dual, resilient links into New Plymouth, Whanganui, Rotorua, Napier, Nelson, Blehneim, Lincoln and Invercargil, improving both the number of locations available to the membership and the resiliency of connectivity into these areas. Watch out for another article going into these improvements in more depth soon. We are also kicking off investigations for improvements around Tauranga, central North Island and the East Cape, so there may be more things to come for our regional centres.

Check out the live REANNZ Weathermap.

 

 

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REANNZ deploys New Zealand’s first organisation-wide SDN switch

Today REANNZ has announced that its office in Wellington is running entirely on a Software-Defined Networking (SDN) switch, believed to be the first organisation in New Zealand to deploy this technology across the whole business.

REANNZ is New Zealand’s own national research and education network (NREN), providing Kiwi researchers and scientists with the ultra fast network that allows them to store and share data and collaborate with other researchers in New Zealand and around the world in real-time.

REANNZ was one of the first NRENs in the world to start experimenting with SDN. Wanting to build interest in SDN in New Zealand, REANNZ network engineers started collaborating with academics and students at the University of Waikato and Victoria University in early 2012.

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Cawthron Institute is now only milliseconds away from the rest of the world

Cawthron Institute Chief Executive, Charles Eason.  Photo credit: Cawthron Institute
Cawthron Institute Chief Executive, Charles Eason. Photo credit: Cawthron Institute

Cawthron Institute joins over 40 research and education institutions across New Zealand to encourage big data research and enable international collaboration for their scientists.

Cawthron Institute has just joined REANNZ, New Zealand’s own research and education network, offering an advanced network and super high speed Internet for research, education and innovation entities in New Zealand.

Based in Nelson, Cawthron Institute is New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation, specialising in food and water research for the primary production sector. Its scientists are involved in research all over New Zealand and around the world.

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Recap from QUESTnet and THETA conference in Queensland

THETA Lego person 2015 800px

The  QUESTnet conferences have been held annually in Queensland for over 20 years, and have become the de facto event for those interested in networking (as a technology) and as a driver of research and education delivery in Australasian tertiary institutions. As now familiar concepts such as mobile and cloud have entered the general lexicon the event itself has adapted to meet new challenges for staff, students and institutions alike.

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REANNZ joins CineGrid, creating new opportunities for engineer and artist collaboration

CineGrid Co-Founder Laurin Herr moderates a panel on 4K networked video for remote sensing science applications at the CineGrid workshop in San Diego, CA. Dr. Richard Weiberg (video screen far right) transmits a 4K 60p image of a Stentor (protozoa) from his lab at USC to the CineGrid audience in San Diego over the CENIC fibre optic network.
CineGrid Co-Founder Laurin Herr moderates a panel on 4K networked video for remote sensing science applications at the CineGrid workshop in San Diego, CA. Dr. Richard Weiberg (video screen far right) transmits a 4K 60p image of a Stentor (protozoa) from his lab at USC to the CineGrid audience in San Diego over the CENIC fibre optic network.

REANNZ has joined CineGrid as a network member. CineGrid is an international research consortium focused on emerging applications in media intensive forms of art, entertainment, distance learning, scientific visualisation, remote collaboration and international cultural exchange. Through CineGrid, REANNZ hopes to spark innovative uses of its nationwide, fibre optic high-speed network among its university, polytechnic and CRI members.

CineGrid organises network test beds and hosts a variety of experimental digital media projects and periodically organises inter-disciplinary workshops and demonstrations to share results and identify new avenues of research. CineGrid activities are designed to help members foster new user communities that are eager to share their cultural, technical and human creativity with colleagues across the globe, linked by CineGrid and its network members, such as REANNZ. Both organisations share the goal of education and training of next-generation digital media and network professionals.

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Learnings from Internet2 Global Summit

Internet2 Global Summit 2015
Internet2 President and CEO Dave Lambert welcomes over 900 attendees to the 2015 Internet2 Global Summit.

At the end of April I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Internet2 Global Summit in Washington, DC, an event that provided a great opportunity to meet and learn from peers thought the international research and education community. This year marked the biggest ever event with almost 1000 attendees representing 38 different countries.

The welcoming reception I received through the conference speaks not only to the strong community spirit that extends throughout NREN’s worldwide but also to the increasing profile of the New Zealand R&E community and REANNZ in the world stage. It was very positive to see the effects that hosting the GLIF conference in 2014 and our ongoing participation in international projects such as the Enlighten Your Research programme and the Global NREN CEO Forum have had on raising the visibility and interest in developments happening throughout New Zealand.

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